April Child Abuse Prevention Month

Published 7:27 pm Monday, April 5, 2010

April has been proclaimed Child Abuse Prevention Month in Pike County.

At a ceremony at the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center in Troy Monday afternoon, Brundidge Mayor Jimmy Ramage, Troy Mayor Jimmy Lunsford and Pike County Commissioner Robin Sullivan presented a proclamation designating April Child Abuse Prevention Month and encouraging the people of Pike County to become involved in supporting families in raising their children in safe, nurturing environments.

“Preventing child abuse and neglect is a community problem that depends on involvement among people throughout the community, Lunsford said. “The majority of child abuse cases stem from situations and conditions that are preventable in an engaged and supportive community.”

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Lunsford said effective child abuse prevention programs succeed because of partnerships created among social service agencies, schools, faith communities, civic organizations, law enforcement agencies and the business community.

“The Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center is the result of such a partnership,” Lunsford said.

Mona Watson, Pike Regional CAC director, said, in its five years of operation, the CAC has served 983 alleged victims of child abuse, children who have gone through abusive crisis situations or are at-risk because of problems at home or at school.

“That number is astounding,” Watson said. “And, that’s just a drop in the bucket because we have no idea how many cases of child abuse are never reported or even acknowledged.”

Watson said thousands of additional children in the counties served by the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center are impacted through the in-school prevention programs offered through the Center.

“The best way to prevent child abuse is to stop it before it starts,” she said.

Watson expressed appreciation to the many who support the CAC and are making a difference in the lives of children in the Pike County area.

“This year has been a tough one for us because of proration but, with the support of our community and our representatives in the Alabama Legislature, we are making it,” Watson said.

A special presentation was planned for Sen. Wendell Mitchell but, due to illness, he was unable to attend the ceremony.

“Five years ago when we needed seed money, Sen. Mitchell was instrumental in helping get extra allocations through the Legislature to bring our agency and several others into the funding network,” she said. “Government funding has been a tremendous help to us. Sen. Mitchell and Rep. Alan Boothe have continued to work to help us stay funded and we are so appreciative of them and what they do for children who are crisis situations.”

Boothe said there is no greater return on funds than those invested in children.

“Children are most important,” he said. “They are so precious that I can’t imagine how anyone could abuse them. But it happens and the people here at the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center deal with child abuse on a daily basis. If funding were twice as much, the need is there.”

Boothe said he can forgive those who abuse children but he cannot forget what they have done.

“As long as I’m in Montgomery, I’ll do everything that I can to make sure that the doors of the Pike Regional Child Advocacy Center stay open,” he said.

Scherryl Harrison, chair of the CAC board of directors, expressed appreciation to all of the supporters of the CAC on behalf of board members.

The Center opened in 2005, but Harrison, who is an assistant district attorney, said the need for such a center was recognized as early as 1987.

Although it was evident that children were victims of abuse, the intervention efforts were disjointed.

“It has taken a village for us to come together and, to as my mother would say, ‘put our money where our mouth is,” Harrison said. “Now we have it all. We are a ministry. We have a mission, and we are making a difference.”